PLAYWAVE CREATIVE REVIEW: SILENT NIGHT
Silent Night by Darlinghurst Theatre Company at the Eternity Playhouse. Photo by Brett Boardman, featuring performers Amanda Bishop, Richard Sydenham and Aaron Glenane.
Playwave Creative Review: SILENT NIGHT
Reviewed by Zack Lewin and Nicole Pingon
Yes, Silent Night is all about our favourite holiday, Christmas, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a satirical slap in the face of our own bizarre behaviours within the festive season, and reveals the harsh realities of our digitalised 21st Century world on our own morality. It’s confronting. It’s intense. But perhaps most importantly, it plays with every preconceived notion of what theatre can be.
The moment we entered the theatre, our love-hate relationship with Christmas sprung to life. Obnoxious Christmas music played on a loop and the overload of festive LED lit decorations reminded us that the holiday season was coming, and didn’t care if we thought November was too early, because it’s here, and it’s not going anywhere.
It’s this unapologetic attitude that gives Silent Night its charm, but also strips it of its approachability. The show tells the story of an upper middle class white family from West Ryde as they compete with their neighbours to win the ARCE (Australian Ritual Christmas Excellence) awards. It’s a parody of the classic sitcom formula played live on stage, satirising the 21st Century model of objectified rituals and beliefs and our very own commercialised Christmas. It approaches these heavy and confronting topics with even heavier, and especially even more confronting, execution.
Absolutely overrun with crude jokes and somewhat religiously insensitive content, this show could prove especially confronting to those who aren’t accustomed to this form of social commentary. Even as huge fans of satire, in Silent Night, it was found to be excessive at times, and due to this it’s easy to misunderstand the purpose of the show: to expose and condemn our western world privilege and our capitalist objectification of culture. To call to question how excellently we could possibly be executing our rituals if we are only doing so for the sake of superficiality. A moment that stood out was when, one of the characters said, “Jesus and the antichrist look very similar when you’re online!” This seemed like a gag; everyone laughed because it was very funny, but it almost completely sums up the message of the show: in our digital world, why is the line between good and evil so blurred?
The show’s messages were forthcoming, almost edging on being too close to home. From beginning to end, the show was a sharp satire that didn’t shy away from its audiences. It was blatant that it was a critique of us, but at times it strayed too far from our reality, making it difficult to really see ourselves within the show. Its overtness is commendable, and frankly, an assault on its audiences and what we typically view as entertaining. While it is not necessarily an enjoyable show, it’s definitely memorable. This exact feeling of contemplation and confliction we’ve been left with is powerful, and that is what makes Silent Night a show worth seeing.